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ISLAM UNDER FIRST FOUR CALIPHS   29

there were more than one thousand "Companions" in
its ranks. Organized into four divisions, with a total
strength of 30,000, apart from a reserve of 6000 men
under Ikrima, it marched north, and working inde-
pendently eventually threatened Syria from Hebron on
the west to Damascus on the east.

Heraclius despatched four armies to overwhelm the
detached divisions, which thereupon united on the left
bank of the Yermuk, an eastern tributary of the Jordan.
There the two hosts faced one another for months, with-
out risking any decisive action. Abu Bekr in great
anxiety ordered Khalid to leave Irak, and that general,
with 9000 men, made one of the greatest desert marches
on record and joined the Syrian army. In A.H. 13 (634)
he gained a complete victory, known as the battle of
Wakusa, over a vastly superior Byzantine army. Thou-
sands of the enemy were driven over a chasm, and the
victory, although purchased at heavy cost, won Syria for
Islam.

The Death of Abu Bekr and the Accession of Omar,
A.H. 13 (634).  After Abu Bekr had ruled Islam for two
years he felt his end approaching, and

successor. He then continued to occupy himself with
public business until his death, which removed from the
stage one of the noblest, simplest, and bravest characters
known in history. Among his favourite aphorisms was
the following : " One of the best of men is he who
rejoices over a penitent, prays for a sinner, and aids a
charitable man in his good work."
The first act of Omar was to remove Khalid from
his command, after which he raised reinforcements to aid
the army in the field by every possible means. As long
as he lived the forces of Islam were directed with consum-
mate skill.
The Capture of Damascus, A.H. 14 (635).  Damascus,
one of the oldest cities in the world, was the goal of the
victorious Arabs. Being unversed in the art of besieging,
they made no scientific approaches but merely invested
the city, and for months little or no progress was effected.
Finally Khalid, who although deposed from the command